So I was checking the download stats for Animals Ahoy yesterday and received a pleasant and unexpected surprise: since the 4th of Jan, my daily downloads for android have been significantly increasing. At the moment the curve is exponential, but then again it’s off a pretty low base. At first I was really perplexed: I hadn’t run any ads since Christmas and I hadn’t seen a game review anywhere (that I knew of). And besides, my iTunes daily downloads remained the same.
Then I noticed something: Animals Ahoy cracked the 500+ downloads on android around the same date. Now I knew that downloads begat downloads, but not to this extent. It really seems that if your app moves up in the download ‘categories’ as google defines them (e.g. 1-10, 10-100, 100-500, 500-1000 etc.) it makes a big difference to the visibility of your app. It obviously can’t be related to people feeling ‘more confident’ about an app with more downloads, otherwise there would be no material difference between 400 or 500 downloads. But the 500+ barrier must move the app higher in the rankings, or push it up one page or something. Because nothing else can explain these figures.
It still leaves me confused about some things though. First, I thought the rankings changed by country and yet I am seeing downloads from all over the world (including countries that previously didn’t rank in the top 3 for my downloads, like France). Second, I don’t know if there is an equivalent in iTunes given that they don’t display total dowloads to users (I am really hoping there is something similar). Finally, I don’t know if this trend will continue, plateau at some figure or start dropping off again. And I don’t know what will happen when I reach 1000+, although in theory I should find out in about a week 🙂
One thing’s for sure though: it really is critical to get the download figures up to at least 500 as soon as possible to drive organic downloads. My lesson here is that paying to promote your app through advertising is probably most effective early on, because once you break through the 500+ barrier the amount of organic downloads you can generate can equal or exceed the amount of paid downloads, especially when you only budget a $10 daily advertising amount through AdMob as I did.
I really wish more developers would share experiences like this 🙁